McMullen Tennis Center in Clearwater will be buzzing this week when it hosts the fifth annual Clearwater Open Women's Tennis Tournament. The tournament, which features a $50,000 purse for the first time, begins today with qualifying matches. The main draw starts Tuesday, with 32 players in the singles tournament and 16 doubles teams.
While it will not feature the most recognizable names on the women's professional circuit, it does boast a talented field. Think of it as Triple-A baseball, not the major leagues.
"This tournament has a very strong field,'' tournament director Theresa Victory said. "These are some of the best up-and-coming young ladies in tennis. They are playing to hopefully one day end up in a Grand Slam event. It's going to be some very good tennis.''
The highest-ranked player in the tournament is Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium, who currently has a USTA ranking of 76. The top American player is Julie Ditty, who is ranked 105. Players ranked between 106 and 227 are direct acceptances into the U.S. Open.
There are two local players in the qualifying rounds. Alexandra Cercone of Seminole received a sponsor's invitation and Danielle Collins of St. Petersburg won a qualifying tournament to get into this week's field.
Players who advance in the tournament receive points. With enough points, players on the pro circuit can gain entrance into the Grand Slam events. There are 14 $50,000 pro circuit events this season.
Aside from the main tournament, there is also a pro-am event Monday. The Curtis McGee Pro-Am is from 5-9 p.m. The event will match pro players with amateur partners, and will also feature entertainment by saxophonist Eric Darius and rhythm and blues artist Tyesha Williams.
The pro-am and the main tournament benefit the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Suncoast. Admission on Sunday and Monday is free. On Tuesday through Friday admission is $5 and $10 on Saturday and Sunday. A weekly pass is available for $25.
For information, check out www.clearwateropen.com.
The SLAPS golf group held a tournament at Feather Sound on Feb. 12. The low net winners were Thelma Rivero of Belleair and Jane Nader of Belleview-Biltmore, who both shot 68. The low gross winner was Elaine Crawford of Belleview-Biltmore, who shot 90.
• The Women's Golf Association of Belleair CC held its President's Cup tournament on Jan. 20 and 22. Tricia Herrick won the tournament with 143. JoAnne White was second with 144. The low gross champion was Nicole Bourgeau with 183.
• Taylor Hancock of Clearwater finished tied for fifth at the Florida Junior Tour's tournament Juliette Falls in Dunnellon. Hancock shot 76-72–148. Jack Maguire of St. Petersburg shot 159.
Ricky Symanski of Clearwater Beach won the boys 16 singles tournament at the Englewood Tennis Club on Feb. 16. Symanski, who plays tennis for Clearwater Central Catholic, defeated Aleksa Vrugic 6-2, 6-1.
Sarah Collins of Palm Harbor recently secured a berth on the U.S. Epee Fencing team by virtue of her top three placing at the United States Fencing Association Junior Olympic Fencing Championships in Albuquerque, N.M. Collins will fence on the United States Cadet Epee Fencing team at the upcoming Federation Internationale D'Escrime World Championships in Belfast, Ireland, on April 7. Collins, 16, attends Palm Harbor University and trains at the Tampa Fencing Academy as well as with Mario Jelev in Boca Raton.
Two local gymnastics teams competed in the Daytona Beach Open on Feb. 7-8. The Tampa Bay Turners had several gymnasts earn first-place honors. The prep-optional team came in first and included Makayla Adams (first in bars and all-around), Krysta Postlethwaite (first in vault), Emily Kate Swan (first in beam) and Halle Goodwin (first in vault, bars, floor and all-around). First-place winners in Level 7 were Brianna Barrett (floor), Hannah Everson-Sagi (vault), Mimi Gilbert (bars) and Sarah DeVoe (beam). Level 8 winners were Dannie Edmonds (beam) and McKenzie Smith (bars, all-around). The Level 9 first-place team was led by winners Tiffany Henry (beam, floor, all-around), Kylie Moran (bars) and Christina Pheil (vault, bars, beam, all-around). And in Level 10, Naomi DeVries was first in vault and Sarah Wolford was first in bars.
The Apollo Gymnastics team sent boys and girls teams to the event. Girls Level 4 winners were Meghan Bentley (all-around, bars, beam), Sarah Devine (floor), Hannah Loucks (all-around, bars) and Hayden Pryor (all-around, bars). The Level 4 team took first place. In Level 5, Lindsey Brush was first all-around and on vault, and Megan Mckenzie was first on beam. Lucia Russo was first all-around and on beam in Level 7. Brooklyn Fregeau was first on vault in Level 8 and in the Prep Ops, Shelby Berendt and Madalyn Neeley were first on bars. In the boys division, Jacob Day was first all-around, pommel horse, rings, vault, parallel bars and high bar in Level 4 7-year-olds. In Level 4 8-year-olds, Jacob Gars was first on floor, rings and vault. And in Level 7, Cody Teaney was first all-around, on floor, pommel horse, rings, vault and parallel bars. Tanner Berendt was first on high bar.
The high school club bowling league is five weeks into its season, and East Lake leads Clearwater Central Catholic and Palm Harbor University by a point. Jay Zuerndorfer leads the boys with a 227 average, while Jamie Cowden leads the girls with a 186 average.
The Clearwater Shuffleboard club hosted a West Coast Amateur Doubles tournament last weekend. Rosaire Cote and Doreen McGrath won the tournament. Robert Weber and Doug Reid were second and Jim Ransey and Jay Lancaster took third.
Rodney Page can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.